Holiday traffic sucks. There’s no real delicate way to put it. But here’s a list that’ll help your holiday road trip suck a little less.
In Texas, our winters are considerably more mild than our northern counterparts. However, on the rare occasion that the Lone Star State gets some snow (or more likely freezing rain), it turns most good-to-decent drivers into not good or decent drivers.
We’re here to help!
BEFORE YOUR TRIP:
- Take your car to get a check-up. Make sure your brakes are all working properly, the lights work, oil is good and changed, antifreeze is working, and defrost and heater works. It’s a real pain in the butt having car troubles and it’s doubly yucky trying to find a body shop in a town you’re unfamiliar with.
- Check your battery! Especially if it’s older than three years. What’s worse than being cold? Being cold because your engine won’t start.
- Replace worn-out windshield wiper blades and check/refill the wiper fluid if necessary.
- Try to have your gas tank at least half full to keep your gas lines from freezing due to condensation.
- Check your tires! Tire pressure decreases in cold weather and under-inflated tires on slick roads are nothing but trouble.
- Check weather and road conditions so that you have a decent idea on what to expect (even though the weatherman lies) and how to accommodate for potential detours.
EMERGENCY KITS – WHAT TO BRING:
- Snow/ice scraper
- Shovel in your vehicle
- First-aid kit
- Flashlights and a fresh supply of batteries
- Extra clothes
- Bottled water
- Car adapter to charge your cell phone
- Up-to-date road maps
- Non-perishable snacks: peanuts and granola bars are good protein – and carbohydrate-rich foods.
- Kitty litter (Say whaaa? Okay, bear with me: kitty litter adds weight to the rear tires in the instance that you need more traction and sprinkling some kitty litter on slick roads can add more traction if you get stuck in snowy areas.)
TIPS FOR YOUR ROAD TRIP:
- There are going to be a lot of other vacationing folks driving at the same time and in the same direction you are. Keep that in mind if you happen to get stuck in traffic. Be mindful of the traffic that the holiday season brings and come up with creative family-friendly road games to help pass the time.
Don’t rely on your 4-wheel drive:
- Your 4-wheel pick-up or SUV may give you a false sense of security. Exercise caution when driving, even if you’re in all-wheel drive vehicle. If you’re overconfident, it may jeopardize your driving.
Give more than two seconds worth of space:
- In bigger cities (okay… everywhere) people tend to forget the two-second space rule in order to give yourself ample time to stop or slow down if need-be. Drivers Ed 101, common stuff. But the two-second rule is for normal conditions and snowy weather isn’t a normal condition. Give you and the cars in front of you a larger buffer because cars take longer to slow down – 4 to10 times longer, actually. Slamming on your brakes will cause you a whole slough of other problems. Doubling or tripling your stopping distance from other cars will increase your chances of a safe journey, and it’s always better safe than sorry.
Don’t slam on your brakes:
- If you find that your traction is slipping, what do you do? If you guessed, “Don’t slam on your brakes,” you are absolutely right! Slamming on your brakes in snowy/icy/slick weather is a terrible idea. Even if you have a death wish, odds are everyone around you does not. So don’t slam on your brakes even though your body is in panic mode. If your vehicle begins to skid, ease off the accelerator and let the car slow down on its own.
- If you do have to brake, then do so slowly and with even pressure. Erratic movements will jerk the car and that’s not good.
- If you’re making a turn, you should employ steady braking as you approach the turn. Once you enter the corner, let off the brakes and use the vehicle’s remaining traction and momentum to steer through the turn.
When the weather is less than ideal, don’t floor it. Better to miss an appointment than not make it to your destination at all. Use common sense and remember that you’re sharing the roads.